Rating: 4.25 stars
Buy Link:
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Length: Novella

Andrew Brady is a fox shifter who works for C.L.A.W., a secret division of MI6 that deals with shifter affairs and shifter crimes. He’s an analyst, at home behind his computer and his desk with a coffee in hand. Called in late one night, Andrew ends up sharing the elevator with none other than the leopard shifter, Lane Roberts. Lane, who flirts with everything in sight, and who Andrew has a bit of a crush on. Not that he’ll admit it.

A young man, the son of a prominent parliamentary member, has gone missing in Prague. Someone has asked for Andrew, specifically, to be a part of this mission. It will be his first time in the field, but he won’t be going alone. Lane is going with him. Together, posing as husbands, they’ll walk into the tiger’s den — quite literally — and uncover an organization of shifter traffickers.

The only question is, will they make it out alive?

Czech Mate is a cute, quick, and fun little adventure, and looks to be the first in a series. Because the focus is so tight on Andrew and Lane, we don’t get to see much of the world and I have no idea how humans and shifters relate to one another, if there’s conflict, or even if the general human population knows about them. But that’s not the point of this James Bond-esque spy story.

Andrew is quiet, but he’s not an introvert. He just happens to be a computer analyst and he’s good at it. Rarely do his skills take him away from the office. This is his first field mission and he’s actually kind of excited for it. He’s concerned about the missing boy, he wants to do well, and the fake marriage to Lane is making him think, and feel, all sorts of things he shouldn’t be. It’s not that he dislikes Lane, he’s just wary of being hurt. Andrew’s last boyfriend left him a few months ago, and he knows Lane flirts with anything that moves, like their hotel concierge.

Lane flirts, yes, but it’s harmless. It’s not like he’s going from bed to bed, just conversation to conversation. He’s good at his job and he likes what he does, saving the world here and there. He’s also fascinated by Andrew. He thinks the fox shifter is cute and clever and it’s fun to rile him up. But as the mission goes on and the two of them are put to the test, both as agents and friends, he finds himself more interested in Andrew the person.

When the two of them finally come together, it’s satisfying, but their future together is somewhat uncertain. Lane, in his past missions, has had to do some unsavory things. Killing people goes without saying, but seducing targets, or participating in various sexual acts comes with the job, and how that will affect the very new relationship he has with Andrew has yet to be seen.

I had fun with this story. The pacing is good, there’s never a dull moment, and the action scenes are well written. There are a few grammatical issues, a malapropism that almost — but didn’t quite — work, but other than that this is a good book. I just wish there’d been a touch more world building.